Glee Review / Recap Season 4 Episode 3 ‘Makeover’: Don’t Make Me Over

So much for enticing transitions. With Episode 3, ‘Makeover,’ Glee suddenly feels as if it’s all settled in and has no place to go.

Kurt has found a sure-to-be successful fashion career via sudden BFF Isabelle (Sarah Jessica Parker), his editor at Vogue.com. Rachel has surrendered to the hunkiest boy at NYADA in Brody (Dean Geyer). Will has snared a blue ribbon panel job that’ll take him from McKinley (and Emma?) for seven months. And it’s finally dawned on Blaine that he’s alone at a school he entered to be with Kurt, and becoming Senior Class President won’t fill that gap.

So we’re set, right? What else is there to know, except the follow-through to Glee’s most predictable ill-timed entrance (Hollywood Cliche #697) ever, when Finn appears unannounced in NY to catch Rachel with Brody at just the wrong moment. All that was missing was Rachel blurting Hollywood Cliche #992, “I can explain.”

Sorry, but I’m not loving this episode. Wish I were, because I love Glee — still do. But this song-lite show had no meaning, no soul, no heart — save for a haunting underscore reprise of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s Moon River (remember Season 2’s finale outside Tiffany’s?) for Rachel and Brody’s tryst. It was also heart-achingly timely, since this week marked the passing of crooner Andy Williams, for whom Moon River was his signature song.

And though I applaud the boldness of the two-city setting and how fitting NY is for Glee, I’m starting to question how well it will work. I mean, beyond scads of Skype and occasional visits, how can Glee segue seamlessly between the two? The stories just don’t overlap. So it’s starting to really feel like two separate shows, which was the original idea when Ryan Murphy first clumsily floated the Gotham-angled concept. Yet it’s not. It’s Glee — set largely in the same old high school. And it’s starting to feel fragmented — because it is.

Even the music — for me, Glee’s most important element and often a game-saver — didn’t soar. With only four songs, they’d better be good, and these weren’t, especially the smug, silly, hammy and downright obnoxious cavorting of Rachel and Brody on the streets for Sheryl Crow’s A Change Would Do You Good. Blaine’s bland Everybody Wants to Rule the World was warmed over Tears for Fears without an ounce of new verve, and Hole’s Celebrity Skin was — I don’t know. I just wasn’t feeling it as “makeover” song by a punk band.

For me, the only semi-embraceable number was the innocent, nostalgic and well-suited mash-up of The Way You Look Tonight (from NY-set 1936 movie musical Swing Time) and You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile (from NY-set 1977 Broadway musical Annie), though its allegedly “great” music video wasn’t great at all. And oddly cavernous — thus phony — NY office space for fashion mags has been done before, on Ugly Betty.

Trivia tidbits: SJ Parker is, in fact, from Ohio, and Annie was her first Broadway show, back when she was a kid, just as Lea Michele got her start at 8 in Les Miserables. So both got to sing a song from their first show in their first Glee episode. (Remember Rachel’s On My Own in Glee’s pilot?)

In fact, I saw Parker in Annie.

Among the original cast.

At Broadway’s Alvin Theatre, now the Neil Simon Theatre.

As I discussed with her years later in an interview.

So there, any haters who find this review too harsh and assume I don’t know what I’m talking about.

But hey, it’s just one episode out of 69 so far, and Glee will be back — at least for one more week until a month-long baseball playoff hiatus. And as always, I’m hopeful — hopeful that Glee will reclaim meaning and musical mettle by next week, even if — or perhaps because? — its theme will be breakups.

Until then, hey — you can’t win ’em all.

But as they also say, the show must go on.

— Bruce Westbrook

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